“Open” or “Closed,” that is the Question

DrillMasterAsk DrillMaster, Commentary, Drill Teams, Honor Guard, Instructional 3 Comments

There is a difference whether you and/or your team stands with the Closed Foot Method or Traditional Method and not just visually.

There are two ways of standing at Attention for the American military, drill teams and honor guards when referring to the position of the feet (the star is the center of balance):

Closed-Foot Method
Heels and toes together
Military Honor Guard Standard

Traditional Method

Which position is better?
The Closed-Foot Method creates a clean line and helps the honor guard member to balance all of their weight on the whole of both feet and bring the center of balance (the star) centered between the feet.

The Traditional Method, places more pressure on the heels and up through the spine. Subsequently, standing for longer periods can become quite difficult/painful.

When I teach, I show the difference between the two stances to each trainee from the side: stand using the Traditional Method and then, without moving your upper body, move to the Closed-Foot Method. As your center of gravity moves forward, those observing will see your upper body shift forward about two inches! Much more comfortable than an aching spine.

Comments 3

  1. Pingback: First Step- How to Step Off | The DrillMaster

  2. I prefer closed, not only because it supports the spine better, but also because it enables a cleaner step-off. The open toed position requires extra attention to the method used to (A) shift the weight from the heels to the center of gravity and (B) rotate the foot and leg forward on the first step. I guarantee you that if a team doesn’t have a technique to deal with those two things, their step-offs are not going to be precise, and some of their members are going to have turned out feet for the first, and maybe second step. It looks sloppy to me.

    1. Post

      Hello Frances,

      Thank you for commenting on this article. I too prefer the Closed Foot Method and for the reasons you describe as well. All kinds of marching units can benefit from this method of standing at Attention.


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